May 25, 2005

Alan Fredericks, vice president and editorial director of Northstar Travel Media (parent company of Meetings & Conventions, T&E and Travel Weekly), has been named to the Travel Industry Association's Travel Industry Hall of Leaders. TIA president and CEO Roger Dow said, "Few individuals have had the opportunity to chronicle the progress and fortunes of our diverse industry over the past four decades and use it as wisely as Alan Fredericks. Alan has been a steady voice of U.S. travel and tourism, and his counsel has been an important ingredient in the growth of this great industry." Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, in his nomination letter, said Fredericks "transformed not only a publication but an industry... In Alan's current role as vice president and editorial director, he has mentored journalists at Travel Weekly, TravelAge West and Meetings & Conventions. It is, perhaps, in this role that his influence will be most lasting." Fredericks joined Travel Weekly in 1966 and became managing editor in 1967. He was named editor in 1972, a position he held until 1997. Fredericks will be inducted at the Travel Industry National Awards Gala at the Westin Seattle on Oct. 27.

The 485-room Hyatt Regency Los Angeles bowed out of a lengthy struggle between hotel employee union Unite Here and the Los Angeles Hotel Employer's Council last Friday when it was reflagged as the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown. Once new ownership took over, the property seceded from the LAHEC, an eight-hotel negotiating body, and signed a union contract that granted Unite Here's most coveted and contested demand -- a 2006 expiration date. John Stoddard, general manager of the Grand Wilshire, one of the seven remaining properties in the LAHEC, addressed a letter to managers of the other six hotels last week as well, urging them to sign a 2006 contract with the union. "The union has outmaneuvered us," Stoddard said when contacted by M&C, "and they've led us into an '06 contract by default. My fellow council members are going to have to wake up and accept that. There's no sense in fighting this any longer."

Members of the 50-year-old Northern California Society of Association Executives voted to dissolve as a stand-alone organization and create the NCSAE Network, to be managed by the American Society of Association Executives. The NCSAE Network will provide career services plus volunteer and networking opportunities to its members in the San Francisco area, and will be run by "a subset" of the current 16-member NCSAE board. "ASAE has pledged to provide more targeted educational programs and services to meet our needs," said Mike Mortensson, NCSAE president. "Our desire is to increase the return on the membership investment through this new relationship with ASAE."

Taj Hotels is planning a return to U.S. shores with the acquisition of the management contract for the Pierre in New York City, a 201-room hotel currently managed by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. While the Four Seasons' contract does not expire until 2012, a Four Seasons insider told M&C that representatives from Taj, Four Seasons and the hotel's owners were currently in talks to decide if Taj Hotels will take over earlier. The Pierre lost $2 million in the first quarter of 2005. Several years ago, Taj Hotels went through a restructuring and sold its two U.S.-owned properties, the Lexington in New York City and the Executive Plaza in Chicago. It currently operates 56 hotels, 37 of which are in India.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is selling its landmark Hotel Danieli in Venice to the Statuto Group, an Italian real estate firm. Under the agreement, Starwood will continue to manage the 233-room property, which is part of its Luxury Collection.

The United States was the top country for association events in 2004, according to the International Congress & Convention Association's International Meetings Market 2004 report. The study was based on ICCA's database of association events that had a minimum of 50 participants, rotated between three countries or more and were held at least once every four years. Following the U.S. were (in order) Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Japan and Austria.

On May 19, US Airways Group Inc. merged with America West Holdings Corp. to create the nation's sixth-largest airline, to be called US Airways. The merger, still subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court supervising US Airways' Chapter 11 filing, would affect service to more than 200 cities in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. "We are seizing this opportunity to strengthen our business rather than waiting for the industry environment to improve," said Doug Parker, America West's chairman, president and CEO. The new airline will be based at America West's headquarters in Tempe, Ariz. Parker will be CEO, and the board will be made up of members from both airlines, including current US Airways chief Bruce Lakefield as vice-chairman.

Hilton Hotels Corp. will sell 11 properties by year-end, with cash proceeds going to buy back shares in the company. Analyst Marc Falcone at Deutsche Bank wrote in a recent investor research report that he expected the chain to announce the sale of its Chicago Palmer House hotel shortly, as well as others in the coming months. With the sale of the hotels, Hilton stands to raise as much as $500 million to $800 million.

Sources say Boyd Gaming Corp. soon will announce plans to expand the Borgata resort in Atlantic City, which the company owns together with MGM Mirage. The highlight of the approximately $350 million expansion will be a new 500-room hotel tower with additional pools, meeting space and a spa. Construction will begin in summer 2006 and finish in summer 2007. The Borgata and Boyd Gaming did not return calls for comment.